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Physical Wellness

10 Chest Exercises for Men That Build Muscle

Large chest muscles are a common goal for many men, whether for practical strength benefits or aesthetic improvements. 

Chest muscles are important for facilitating upper body strength, making men look and feel their best, and even helping with posture to some extent. Luckily, there are tons of great upper body exercises men can follow to bulk up quickly.

Not sure where to start? In that case, read on. We’ll break down 10 chest exercises for men that build muscle efficiently. You can combine these with other upper body and whole-body workouts for great fitness results across the board.

What Muscles Should You Target?

When you try to bulk up your chest specifically, that means targeting your major chest muscles. These include:

  • The pectoralis major, makes up the majority of your muscle mass on your chest. The pectoralis major is fan-shaped and very large.
  • The pectoralis minor, lies beneath the pectoralis major. These minor muscles pull your shoulders forward and down and are still quite important.
  • The serratus anterior. This muscle is located on either side of your chest wall. The serratus anterior is important whenever you lift weights over your head.

For the best results, you’ll perform exercises that strain each of these muscles in turn or simultaneously. However, your chest exercises will use your arms and core muscles extensively. Therefore, if you are just starting to get fit, it’s recommended that you do some basic bodyweight or free weight exercises to improve your triceps, biceps, and abdominal muscles a little bit before moving on to these chest workout routines.

As a bonus, many of the best arm workouts and exercises will strengthen your pectoral muscles and other upper chest muscles as a side effect.

With that said, let’s break down 10 of the best chest exercises to try the next time you hit the gym.

Dumbbell Squeeze Press

The dumbbell squeeze press is an excellent chest exercise. When you squeeze dumbbells together, you emphasize the movement of your pectoral muscles rather than across your whole chest. Thus, you’ll experience better gains in the pecs area compared to regular dumbbell presses.

  • Lie flat on a lifting bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand
  • Begin with your arms held straight and directly over you
  • Then bend your arms and lower them to either side of your body until the dumbbells are just above your chest
  • Pause, then lift your arms and repeat

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

The incline dumbbell bench press is a phenomenal pick for bulking up your chest. It uses two separate weights to activate additional stabilizing muscles compared to a standard bench press movement.

  • Lie on an incline bench set at a 45-degree angle.
  • Lift your dumbbell weights over your chest with your palms facing up and away.
  • Slowly lower one of your weights down, then push it up and squeeze your chest muscles at the top of the movement for optimal activation.
  • Repeat the movement with the other dumbbell.
  • Then repeat with the first dumbbell, and so on.

Incline Barbell Bench Press

The incline barbell bench press is phenomenal for working your chest muscles — and your upper arms. This exercise heavily works the clavicular head of the pectoralis major, so it really makes your chest muscles pop.

  • Lie flat on a workout bench set to an incline angle.
  • Then lift a barbell to your shoulder height with your palms facing away from your chest.
  • Breathe out and push up with both arms.
  • Lock your arms and squeeze your chest, then return to the start position.

Cable Fly

The cable fly is a perfect movement if you want to target your pectorals and deltoids. This cable machine exercise offers lots of excellent muscle tension throughout its entire movement, making it a great well-rounded chest exercise.

  • Attach a pair of stirrup handles to the highest setting of your gym’s cable crossover machine.
  • Pick up one stirrup handle per hand and make sure your arms are outstretched at a slightly bent angle.
  • Put one foot a little forward with both feet shoulder-width apart, then brace your core with a slight bend in your knees.
  • Pull the stirrup handles down and across your body in front of your chest, then return to the starting position with control (i.e., don’t let the handles snap back).

Decline Push-Up

The decline push-up is an effective chest day workout that emphasizes muscle growth in the lower pectoral region. This is important for guys who want a well-rounded, defined chest area rather than just bulging upper pecs.

  • Put your feet on a flat bench with your hands planted right in front of you.
  • Lower your body down until your chest almost hits the floor.
  • Push your body back to the starting position and squeeze your chest muscles.
  • Take a brief pause, then repeat.

Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press

The close grip barbell bench press doesn’t put as much strain on your shoulders like a regular bench press. Thus, it might be a good chest exercise if you have mobility or discomfort issues in that area for one reason or another. Nonetheless, the close grip bench press puts a lot of emphasis on your chest and triceps muscles.

  • To begin, put your hands just inside shoulder-width on the barbell.
  • Lie flat on a bench and hold the barbell with a narrow and overhand grip.
  • Breathe in and lower your bar until it barely touches the middle of your chest.
  • Push the bar back up to the starting position and breathe out for explosive movement.
  • Try to push the bar by using your chest muscles as much as possible.

Staggered Push-Up

The staggered push-up is a perfect exercise if you already know how to do regular push-ups. Think of this exercise as an important stepping stone on your way to the ultimate in upper body show-off exercises: the one-handed push-up!

  • Start with a standard push-up position. However, make sure that your hands are slightly staggered relative to each other. Most start with their right hand a little further forward than their left hand.
  • Lower your body until your chest is 1 inch from the ground, with your back straight, as you would with a standard push-up.
  • Push yourself up explosively.
  • Pull your hands off the floor and swap their positions, so the left hand is in front.
  • Repeat the push of motion until your reps are complete.

Clap Push-Up

The clap push-up is another excellent push-up variation that will strengthen your chest muscles. Plus, it looks awesome and can be a way to show off your strength to your friends.

  • Start with a standard push-up position and place your hands just outside your chest. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and your body should be a straight line from your head down to your heels.
  • Brace your core and lower your chest to just above the floor.
  • Push up explosively. You need to drive a lot of power into your arms so that your hands come off the floor.
  • Clap your hands at the top of the movement, then brace yourself as your body comes back down.
  • Repeat until your set is complete.

Chest Dip

Last but not least, try chest dips if you want to target chest fat and tone your chest muscles. Chest dips work your chest muscles and the entirety of your upper body, like your shoulders, upper back, and arms. Your core will also get a bit of a workout since you’ll need to stabilize your body throughout the movement.

  • Start by grabbing the parallel bars of a dip station at your gym.
  • Make sure that your palms face inward, and your arms are held completely straight.
  • Lower yourself until your elbows are at 90-degree angles. Keep your elbows tucked against your body throughout the movement so that they don’t flare outward.
  • Push yourself back to the top until your arms are straight again, then lower yourself with control.

This exercise, in particular, is advanced and may take some practice. You’ll need to build up some upper body strength before you can do this properly.

Summary

Ultimately, any of these chest exercises could be great for bulking up quickly and maximizing your chest strength, and some can even make for a highly effective home chest workout. 

However, practice these exercises alongside a solid workout routine overall if you want a bigger chest. If you strain your chest muscles significantly one day, give yourself a rest day by exercising different muscle groups, like your legs, before tackling more of these chest exercises again.

Furthermore, be sure to consume plenty of protein. Your body needs that extra protein to fabricate new muscle fibers and build up your chest tissue as you complete these exercises. These chest exercises go perfectly with several of 1AND1 Life’s top-tier supplements and fitness guides. 

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Sources:

Muscles of the Pectoral Region – Major – Minor | TeachMeAnatomy

Anatomy, Thorax, Serratus Anterior Muscles – StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf

Pectoralis Major | UW Radiology

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